I Don't Work for Twitter

 | Jun 03, 2014 | 12:46 PM EDT  | Comments
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"Jim, do you still like Starbucks (SBUX)?" "Have you soured on Apple? (AAPL)" "Are you changing your mind on the airlines?"

Until the advent of Twitter, I didn't get many of these kinds of questions. I think that's because the show and my blog are remarkably consistent. I am not about trading in and out of companies. One time I was. More than a decade ago. Now I try to figure out a long-term thesis and stick with it unless the facts change, because, as John Maynard Keynes famously said, "When my information changes, I alter my conclusions, what do you do sir?" The implication is that who in his right mind would stay negative about a stock if the business it is connected to improved and vice versa.

Now, some of this misinformation about me and my opinions on Twitter comes from the ever-changing notions of those who follow me. Some of it, sadly, comes from people who think the only thing I do is answer questions on Twitter and do not have a show I am paid to do or a blog or charitable trust newsletter that I am paid to write. Many people who Tweet or read Tweets believe that everything should be free and that I should work for free and that it is outrageous I charge for anything. Sorry, I owe loyalty to employers, not Twitter. I do Twitter because it should be fun, not because I am trying to be subversive against my employers.

But I think people have to understand that sometimes there are great long-term stories and while I think that there should never be a time when you want to be a pig and not take some profit, you can't change your mind because of the market or even because the stock price has gone higher if you like the story (or the reason why you bought it in the first place).

Let's take the airlines. I have said over and over that because there are no new startups going against the group with any real staying power and because the government blessed consolidation, these companies are able to get a very good return on capital. Plus, getting a new plane is very difficult these days and the old ones burn too much fuel. I like American (AAL) and Delta (DAL). Just because they are both up a lot doesn't mean the thesis has changed. So, I am not changing my mind. I like them. They should be bought.

How about Starbucks? What's different here? I have said over and over again that it is a great long-term holding, a terrific company run by a terrific chief executive with many irons in the fire, including a killer mobile payments system and a fantastic expansion of day parts to include nights, beer, wine and dinner.

Apple? What can I say? Just because I say that the developers' conference is ho-hum doesn't mean the stock should be sold. I like Apple because it is cheap relative to other stocks and has terrific products and I am not dissuaded one bit by what I heard yesterday.

I could go through a ton of stocks that I keep getting asked about. But there is something more important at work here. If you really think that you should change your mind because you think I have changed my mind, don't own anything I like. You are being foolish. You are relying on me 24/7 when I am trying to get you to rely on yourself 24/7.

So, let's be sure about something. If I do think the facts change and the stock's no longer any good for now I will say it. I don't want to stay positive to please those demanding consistency. I want companies to be consistent. If they aren't or if their methods are being called into question, I take action and I take it here. Not Twitter. Those of you who expect Twitter to be the repository of the wisdom I have to say, you are making a big mistake. And for those who think your wisdom's unnecessary? Don't borrow mine. Start with it, but finish with your own judgments. It's much better that way. 

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